We’re excited to announce ‘Metamorphosis’ as our theme for TEDx Adelaide 2016. Over the next few months, we will create a program to help Adelaide experience brilliant ideas worth spreading that are inspired by this theme, across the breadth of technology, entertainment and design (TED, for short).
In weird and wonderful ways, our theme is inspired by Franz Kafka’s famous novella, The Metamorphosis, published a century ago during World War II; the ‘kafkaesque’ war to end war and one of the defining periods of modern society. While a product of its time, Kafka’s novel is regarded as a masterwork of the 20th century in its disturbing characterisation of ‘conspicuous and abrupt’ change.
Kafka’s story is about Gregor, a travelling salesman, who wakes one day to learn that he has become a horrible, cockroach-like creature. Through his grotesque experience, the reader learns about the pain of being misunderstood, the inevitability of loss, and the futility of a life lived unconsciously. There is a lesson in this for us all.
Change isn’t on a mission to be liked
Like all great art, The Metamorphosis is read today because it speaks to something deep within people. While few of us may consider ourselves as beastly as Gregor, we have all had others remark “how much you’ve changed”, trying to connect who you appear to be now with someone they used to know (to paraphrase Gotye). Like the friends and family with whom we share our lives, many of us fear real change at a personal level, perhaps never pursuing our dreams.
Beyond these individual struggles, great political or economic transformations are experienced by societies. They take hold on the public consciousness, much like the ‘shock and awe’ of war or the creeping dread of human-induced global warming. These shifts to a state of remarkable difference are never easy… is it better to look away?
In reality, many of us don’t like change, at least at first. Change is often something we confront and it isn’t on a mission to be liked. Most of the time, we’d rather not think about metamorphosis at a personal, political or any scale, let alone talk about it in front of a thousand strangers. And this is what is behind the power of TED; great talks bring our fears and hopes into the open and propel us towards better things.
So let’s embrace the cockroach
This year, we invite everyone to celebrate the challenge of change and its unique connections to our city state. We’d like to build TEDx Adelaide 2016 around stories from leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and social change agents who felt the fear and did it anyway. If you or someone you know has an idea worth spreading, start preparing, as we’ll issue our official call for speakers several weeks from now.
TEDx Adelaide’s theme for 2016 is designed to attract speakers who, like Kafka’s creation, have a lived experience of transformation and stories that transcend the fear of being ‘careful what you wish for’, as one of last year’s speakers warned.
We want to learn about metamorphoses that are as deeply personal as the transformation of sexual, mental or emotional identity, physical shapeshifting through circumstance or choice, or discoveries that have redefined what it means to be you.
We seek creative interpretations of the theme that can have impact at a global scale, even across epochs extending back to the metamorphic rock of South Australia’s Ediacaran past, through to the future of the Anthropocene and the planet’s distant future. Space and time need not constrain our thinking.
Who knows, what unfolds in a dozen talks this October could not only bring change to the TED community, but also start the metamorphosis of our city as an epicentre of positive change. That’s worth talking about!
TEDxAdelaide Engagement and Experience Director
Tweet Matt @ecocreative